The directorate-general of civil aviation (DGCA), the regulator in the civil aviation sector, has requested low-cost carriers to provide refreshments to passengers in case of flight delays caused due to any reason, whether it be technical delays or fog-related delays.“We (the DGCA) have requested the low-cost carriers to provide refreshments to passengers in case of delayed flights, whatever be the reason for the delay. There are children too booked on flights and therefore we feel this is desirable. Though we have not issued any directive, we are confident that the low-cost carriers will heed our request,” a senior DGCA official told this newspaper.

The DGCA “request”, believed to have been conveyed during a recent meeting with airlines, becomes significant considering that flight delays from Delhi airport are again expected this winter due to fog. Low-cost carriers, which offer cheaper fares to passengers, do not serve food to passengers on board flights.

Last winter, low-cost carrier Air Deccan, which has now captured more than 20 per cent of the domestic aviation market, had come in for severe criticism from irate passen gers due to flight delays and frequent cancellation of flights.

But this time Air Deccan says it is prepared. “We have not yet heard anything from the DGCA on the issue of serving refreshments but we have already decided that we will give a complimentary ticket and serve refreshments to passengers whenever necessary if the flight is delayed for more than three hours,” Air Deccan’s managing director, Capt. G.R. Gopinath, told this newspaper. “Providing refreshments is however not there in our contract. As a rule, we do not do it. But we will offer refreshments where we feel it is necessary,” the Air Deccan MD said.

In any case, Air Deccan had earlier maintained that serving refreshments to passengers, whatever be the circumstances, was against the low-cost carrier business model and that the airline could not afford to do this as it was offering cheaper fares. Meanwhile, another low-cost carrier, SpiceJet, has said that it will offer refreshments to passengers in case of flight delays of more than two hours. “We have always been doing this,” SpiceJet CEO Siddhanta Sharma told this newspaper. “The DGCA had earlier told us that refreshments should be provided to passengers in case of flight delays due to humanitarian reasons,” the SpiceJet CEO added.